Top Online Fundraising Ideas For Schools

Even as schools return to in-person events, online giving remains center stage

Reading Time | 5 minutes
During the heat of the pandemic when in-person events were no longer an option, schools got creative with how they engaged donors. Game nights, talent shows, and food festivals all went virtual, and fundraising platforms were used to host online dance marathons and 5K races. It wasn’t long after quickly pivoting to these clever online fundraising alternatives that nonprofits saw the silver lining: online events are more inclusive and accessible, easier to manage and plan, more cost-effective, and offer the potential for a greater return on investment. Plus, virtual events are becoming increasingly popular with donors.
Now, as many schools return to hosting in-person events, there’s a strong impetus to retain a virtual component. Many donors indicate that they will prefer both in-person and virtual giving opportunities moving forward. With proper planning, a little creativity, and the help of an online fundraising platform, schools can easily and effectively leverage the best of both worlds. Here are our top online fundraising ideas for schools that want to complement their in-person events with online giving experiences to reach more donors and raise more dollars.

Leverage Peer-To-Peer Fundraising To Expand Your Reach

One of the best ways to create awareness around both in-person events and your online fundraising campaigns is to utilize peer-to-peer fundraising to get students, alumni, staff, and even the broader community involved.
With peer-to-peer fundraising, each person can create their own online fundraising page and customize that page with photos, videos, and personalized messages that speak to why their friends and loved ones should donate. The GiveCampus social fundraising platform makes it easy for supporters to quickly set up pages and fundraise on your behalf. Additionally, fun features like the built-in leaderboard foster friendly competition among donors.

Create Online Matches and Challenges to Boost Participation

Online matches and challenges represent an incredible opportunity for donors to encourage others to join them in making a meaningful contribution. The GiveCampus platform empowers advocates and generous donors to easily set up a match or challenge to effectively engage their peers.
What’s the difference between a match and a challenge? With a match, dollars and donors get matched as they’re received. With a challenge, matching funds get unlocked only if a certain threshold is reached.
Schools can also tailor matches and challenges to specific groups (e.g., affiliation, class year, a list of donor names, etc.) and allow donors to designate where their matching funds should be applied (e.g., athletics, financial aid, where most needed, etc.). Advancement teams can even upload offline gift data so in-person gifts and checks can be counted toward a match or challenge. Best of all, motivated supporters can easily track progress toward fundraising goals in real-time by simply visiting the school’s online campaign page.

Send Targeted Emails to Personalize Outreach

Email continues to be an effective communication channel, and when properly executed can also be one of the best-performing fundraising channels for schools.
GiveCampus integrates with two popular email marketing tools: MyEmma and Constant Contact, to make it easier than ever to develop targeted email campaigns. In the past, creating targeted accounts and double-checking that the right message was being sent to the right donor was a huge headache. Now, tools like MyEmma and Constant Contact integrate directly with fundraising platforms like GiveCampus, allowing you to easily create and send targeted and personalized email campaigns depending on a donor’s status and engagement.

Use Incentives to Drive Engagement

No list of top online fundraising ideas for schools would be complete without fun giveaways. When reaching out to potential donors online, providing a small thank-you gift as an added incentive to donate can often help increase engagement and gift size. In behavioral science circles this strategy is known informally as “give to get.” Look no further than the ubiquitous tote bag that has come to be synonymous with NPR fundraising drives (and the subject of many a good-natured meme) to see the power of incentives.
Schools that want to take a page out of public radio’s book and make incentives part of their online fundraising strategy should consider approaching local businesses for in-kind donations. Many companies are happy to contribute products or help subsidize the purchase of branded items as a way to give back to their community, or in exchange for placement of their logo or a shoutout in your campaign marketing materials. There may also be tax advantages for these companies, so don’t be shy about approaching local businesses for help procuring incentives for your online fundraising initiatives, and feel free to think beyond the tote bag. Here are some great examples of incentives in the wild from the GiveCampus partner community:
  • Kentucky Country Day School did a great job incentivizing donors with fun items including honey harvested by the Apiary Club, and school-branded merchandise including dog leashes, baseball caps, and socks. 
  • Johns Hopkins University offered anyone who donated $25 or more a limited-edition Hopkins camp mug.
  • Bucknell University offered donors limited-edition socks to support fundraising for their Financial Aid and Scholarships.
The nice thing about incentives like these is that donors are getting something they want and making a much-needed donation at the same time.

Experience The Benefits of GiveCampus

There are many online fundraising ideas for schools that can help you improve your fundraising efforts. Often, a robust online fundraising platform is the missing piece needed to create a successful campaign. Sign up for a demo today to see how GiveCampus can boost the results of your school’s fundraising efforts.